Each year, Canada's own Elmer Olsen Model Management hosts BootCamp 2 BigTime in Toronto—a chance for the agency's newest female and male faces to strut their stuff in front of the biggest agents in the biz and learn about the industry from personal trainers and seasoned models.
We attended this year's event to check out the fresh talent and speak to the pros about finding representation, attending castings, walking the runway and more.
Also see: Canadian Model Beauty Secrets
DO: KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GETTING INTO
Educate yourself before taking the leap. Read everything, including: books, magazines and modeling websites. Madison Leyes (pictured above), a Toronto-based model who has walked the runway for Prada and Miu Miu, recommends Models x Models. "It's an amazing resource," she says. "The interviewer is an ex-model, so a lot of the girls feel really comfortable talking to her about what to expect in the industry."
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DON'T: RISK YOUR HEALTH
Even though sizing in modeling is very standardized at the moment (height: 5'10" to 6' for women; approximately 34" bust x 24" waist x 34" hip), it's important to have a healthy diet. "Don't starve yourself and think that that's a good way to lose weight. You're going to have to do cardio and you're going to have to diet properly," says Heather Marr, an independent personal trainer that often works with models when they're looking to get fit. For a model, she suggests eating "lots of vegetables and lean proteins [at every meal], including breakfast." Steel cut oats are a good way to start the day, and she suggests half a can of tuna or a few shrimp with vegetables as a snack. Always read labels to avoid excess sugar in items like cereal, granola bars and spaghetti sauce, and skip liquid calories like pop, fruit juice and vegetable juice, which will leave you feeling hungry. Spread meals throughout the day so "your body is getting fuel all the time, keeping your metabolism revved up," she says.
Marr stresses that such a strict diet isn't realistic for most people that don't have somewhat "alien proportions" to begin with. Still, cutting down sugar, eating more vegetables and drinking water instead of pop or juice are all healthy tricks that anyone can employ to stay healthy and increase energy.
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When you're a model, everything in your life revolves around modeling. "It's totally different from a regular 9-to-5 job," says 18-year-old model Sarah Barnes. "If you don't get enough sleep, you look like crap for your photo shoot. If you don't eat right, your body isn't great." If you think modeling is for you, then you must fully commit, says model Brendan Ruck, who has walked runways around the world and appeared in ad campaigns for American Eagle. "You have to be really positive and confident and try your best with the chance that you have."
DO: ARRIVE PREPARED
When attending castings, photo shoots or runway shows, come in your highest heels -- "a good 6-inches high and nothing too flashy that will distract from your face," says Senait Gidey, a model who has walked the runway for DKNY, Nanette Lepore and Issey Miyake and shot numerous editorials, including beauty spreads in FLARE. She also suggests bringing your own foundation and concealer, "because you never know if they don't have your perfect colour."
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"Always have a positive attitude on set," says young model Kristy Nykilchuk. "People will remember the person that complains and they remember the person who whines and doesn't put in their full effort. Word travels fast. People don't want to work with someone they don't enjoy being with." This means being polite and friendly, taking criticism with a smile and never taking a job for granted. If you book a job, you're lucky and should treat it like it's your first priority every time. "Don't treat it like it's nothing," says Kristy. "The people that are hiring for the job -- it's their baby. It's their art. If you treat it like it's nothing, they won't be impressed."
Also see: Model Progeny
DO: SIGN WITH A GREAT AGENT
According to Mario Cugnata, Executive Director of Elite Model Management in Milan, one of the highest indicators of success is having a great relationship with your agent. "When your agent sees in you potential, believes in you, and you trust what they can do for you, that [bond] will create a way to success," he says. "If your agent sees in you the possibility of being a model, they will work that out of you," whether you have experience or not.
What can you do if you don't yet have an agent? "Send your digis to a mother agency" via email or bring them to an open call (usually scheduled weekly at agencies), says Dean Rodgers of Next Model Management in New York. Digis are simple digital images of yourself, like head, profile, three-quarter and full length shots with no makeup, hair pulled back and plain clothes that show off your inseam and body. "Usually you can start there and get a mother agent [in your region] who will then submit to a larger market like New York, LA, Vancouver, Toronto…"
A reputable agency will never ask a model to put out any money up front. "We have an account for the models and we pay advance airfare," says Rodgers. "We pay for books, for your [comp] cards. Later, the models pay for their own printing and cards, but it shouldn't be an initial out-of-pocket expense."
DON'T: LOSE TOUCH WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY
It's so important to remain close with your family and friends from high school, says Elmer Olsen, founder of Elmer Olsen Model Management. "A lot of people will want to become your friend because they know you're a model," he says, but they won't always know what's best for you or help you to make healthy choices. New model, Brittany Bergmeister, says she looks to her mom for support if she ever feels pressure from the industry to lose weight or alter her appearance. "[My mom] was a model back in the day, so she knows what it's like. She keeps me in check."
DO: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
No model is born knowing how to pose or how to walk in heels. The best thing you can do to improve? Practice, practice, practice. To get a killer runway strut, keep shoulders back and hips forward and try walking on a variety of surfaces wearing shoes that are too big and too small. To improve your poses and get more comfortable in front of the camera, set up a digital camera with a self timer and "take a million pictures of yourself," says Next Model's agent Dean Rodgers. "Read lots of fashion magazines, like W, American Vogue and FLARE… see the girls in the images and what poses they're holding and try to mimic those," he says. "A good model knows what the camera is looking at, and [practicing in front of the camera] is how you become more photogenic."
DO: WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL TRAINER
Pick a trainer that is certified, has insurance and has achieved great results with his or her other clients. Every person is different, so also look for a trainer that will tailor your diet and exercise program to your personal goals, says trainer Heather Marr. "I don't weight train models at all. There's no room in the clothes for muscle," she says. The majority of women, on the other hand, "want that tight, toned Pilates type of body and you're not going to get that from [the model diet and workout]." Be clear about your goals so that your trainer can develop a program that will give you the results you want.
DON'T: BE AFRAID TO BE YOURSELF
One thing that everyone (models and agents alike) can agree on: You have to bring more than your beauty to have a successful modeling career. Don't just stand against the wall and let the photographer do the work, says Mario Cugnata, Elite Milano's Executive Director. "Personality is the key to achieving something in this industry."
Model Madison Leyes agrees. "Always, always, always be exactly who you are," she says. Agents and casting directors "see so many girls. You have to be remembered. And they can tell when you're being fake. You have to be really genuine. If you're silly, be silly. If you're funny, then show it."
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